Paper Piece the World

I’ve made an amazing discovery. I kinda love paper piecing. Yes, that scary thing I learned to do on the last week of my 6 week beginner’s quilting class waay back in 2007 because it’s one of the hardest darned things a quilter can learn?  The thing that I immediately told myself I would NEVER do again because the pretty star I made ended up with a hole in it because I didn’t piece it right? Yes, that, I love it now! I bit the bullet, found a simple pattern (from one of my favorite magazines Love Patchwork and Quilting) and I actually tried it and it wasn’t so bad!

My first attempt at paper piecing!

My first attempt at paper piecing!

So my first foundation paper piecing project was these simple envelope blocks. Pretty easy and fast. They helped me get my feet wet and even though I don’t really love this little project as much as I hoped I would, I still like it, a lot and plan to quilt it up and hang it in my cubicle to remind me of my accomplishment. I actually decided that I would try paper piecing again and I did it and I love it now!

I also figured out why I love paper piecing so much now. As a quilter, I’ve always struggled with the need to have an accurate seam allowance (which I always strive for but have difficulty achieving) and the desire to just be completely impromptu in my piecing. Also, having to cut and cut and cut pieces of fabric into tiny pieces just to sew them back together seems so tedious! I don’t know how many times I have been super excited about a pattern (i.e., anything by Jen Kingwell) and then glanced at the cutting instructions and said “NO WAY!”

improv block

An improv block from the Denyse Schmidt workshop in 2010

I think this is why the “improv” style of piecing appeals to me, you just grab some pieces and sew them together!

Paper piecing allows me to grab and sew without very much cutting (or at least a need for specific cuts that will kill your project if you’re off by a centimeter) and have that “organic” piecing that I love but still end up with a very accurate and beautiful product! Really, why didn’t someone tell me about this sooner!?

Free fabric from Michael Miller for the MQG challenge

Free fabric from Michael Miller for the MQG challenge

I had a fat eighth bundle of the Michael Miller challenge fabrics for the Modern Quilt Guild and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with them, until two things happened. First, I tried paper piecing, then I started to see pictures of these amazing Medallion quilts popping up on Instagram (turns out that when someone does a quilt along then all of a sudden about 200 of the 205 people I follow are also making Medallion quilts!) I love the look of the Medallion quilt so after looking around, I found a Quilt Along (year long) that the Portland Modern Quilt Guild was doing, it was Medallion Along! How awesome is that! And while I think patterns are useful for someone who needs a lot of guidance, I felt that the PMQG QAL was perfect for me because it was very “open ended”. That means that they just give general guidelines for each of the steps and those who are quilting along can just take it from there. Well the center block was a 12″ block – any block you want – but they had a link to a beautiful paper pieced star!!

My second try at paper piecing and I'm in LOVE

My second try at paper piecing and I’m in LOVE

Well, do I even have to tell you that of course that was what I HAD to try for my SECOND paper pieced block EVER!!?? I tried it, and I liked it! In fact, I LOVED the result. I used the Michael Miller fabrics and even though I like the fabric and the color combination is pretty nice, I’m not so in love or attached to those fabrics that I had to find the most precious project for them. I felt like those fabrics were giving me “permission” to play because well, they were FREE as part of being a member of the HMQG and the MQG.

Now, I don’t think the MM Challenge foundation paper pieced star block is going to be the center of my medallion quilt, I’m sure, since the deadline is in July, that it will most likely become a cute mini quilt that I can be happy with and hang in my cubicle at work (great conversation starter) but at least I have a starting point now.

I know I can make that block, my confidence in paper piecing is growing (once you get the hang of it, it’s super easy and FUN, yes FUN!) So now I can pick out my favorite fabrics to use as the center of my precious medallion quilt that I WILL make some day!

Let me tell you that once you conquer your fear or dislike for something like paper piecing it opens up a whole NEW world of quilting! (I kinda think almost every block should be paper pieced, including those tiny Tula Pink City Sampler blocks that are just rectangles!

Happy Stitches,


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